KARREN BRADY and CLAUDE LITTNER from tv’s The Apprentice tell victoria Young how to succeed at interviews and at work
How to nail that interview!
“Remember that people do business with people – not skill sets!”
Our brilliant columnist Karren Brady is vice-chairman of West ham United Football Club and an aide to Lord sugar on The Apprentice. she is married to footballer paul peschisolido, lives in the West Midlands and London, and has a son and a daughter.
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to nailing an interview is not enough research. they turn up not having bothered to spend time learning about the business or the challenges it faces, what it does well and what it needs to improve. that’s an immediate fail.
There’s a lot you can do to prepare. look online for annual reports. if the business is a shop, or has premises, go, visit. Find out who’s who at the company and who the directors are – and who their competitors are.
In interviews, I ask one question. that is, “tell me something about my business that i don’t know.” if they’ve done their research, they will have an answer to that question and it’s an immediate indication of whether they really want the job. only 50% make it past that first question.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself. remember, people do business with people, not skill sets! even if you have the skills necessary to do a job, you need to have the personality. go with the mindset that this is your opportunity to sell yourself. try not to be nervous – talking about yourself should be your specialist subject!
an interview is not an opportunity to trip someone up. it’s a chance for a prospective employer to listen to who someone is, how they will fit in and what they are good at. People often forget that business owners want the best people possible working for them. if you explain with confidence what you do and how you will fit in, very often you will win the job.
Dress for the environment you are going into. if it’s a job at a bank, avoid flip-flops! And if it’s a creative agency, don’t wear a corporate suit. whether you are dressing up or down, you should look smart, clean and presentable. Avoid too much make-up or jewellery – aim for simple elegance.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, try and turn it around. use it as a chance to talk about something that you do know about and say, “i don’t know the answer to that, but what i do is X…”
An interview to be a volunteer or a trustee is slightly different. the cause is very important and the role is often unpaid, so it’s crucial to convey your passion and interest for the organisation. Also, research what police checks or documents you might need; see if you can organise them yourself, which might make it easier for them to say “yes”.